Nov 5, 2014 7:04 AM
Palestinian kills Israeli in Jerusalem car attack
The Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) A Palestinian man rammed a minivan into a crowded train stop Wednesday in east Jerusalem and then attacked people with an iron bar after leaving the vehicle, killing one person and injuring 13 before he was shot dead by police.
The militant Hamas group took responsibility for the attack the second-such assault in east Jerusalem in the past two weeks which escalated already heightened tensions between Arabs and Jews in the city.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli police dispersed dozens of masked Palestinians who threw rocks and firecrackers near a contested holy site in Jerusalem's Old City in response to a visit by a group of Jewish activists.
Neighboring Jordan recalled the kingdom's ambassador to Israel for consultations in a gesture of protest over the police raid at the sacred site.
Jordan also said it would submit a complaint to the U.N. Security Council and would "take all necessary legal and diplomatic decisions and steps in order to stop Israel from its behavior" at the holy site, said Jordan's State Minister for Media Affairs Mohammad al-Momani. Under a longstanding arrangement with Israel, Jordan retains custodial rights over Muslim holy sites in the Old City.
Police said the motorist slammed the white minivan into the train stop in east Jerusalem first, backed out and proceeded to drive off, hitting several cars along the way. He then got out and attacked a group of civilians and police officers on the side of the road with a metal bar before he was shot and killed. Security camera footage appeared to show him darting about a crowded intersection before he was shot.
Israeli police said "one person was killed and about a dozen people were injured in the terror attack." They later identified the slain man as a border policeman from the Druze minority.
Police identified the attacker as Ibrahim al-Akari, a 38-year-old Palestinian, and said he had recently been released from prison after serving time for security offenses.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said al-Akari was a member of the group. It said in a statement that al-Akari, "whose blood watered the land of the occupied holy city of Jerusalem, preferred but to retaliate for the blood of his people and the sacredness of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem."
Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum praised the "glorious operation" and called for more such attacks.
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies, and fought a bruising 50-day war over the summer.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was a result of continued incitement by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and "his Hamas partners," an apparent reference to a Palestinian unity government led by Abbas and backed by the Islamic militant group. Abbas has called on Palestinians to guard the sensitive holy site from visiting Jews.
Israel's Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch said civilians and police officers were among the victims. He praised the police officer who killed al-Akari, saying that "a terrorist who attacks civilians deserves to be killed."
The attack was almost identical to one two weeks ago, also committed by a Palestinian from east Jerusalem who rammed his car into a crowded train station, killing a 3-month-old Israeli-American girl and a woman from Ecuador not far from the scene of Wednesday's attack.
East Jerusalem has experienced unrest since the summer, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at motorists and clashing frequently with Israeli police.
Israel captured east Jerusalem with its sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory for their future capital. The fate of the area is an emotional issue for Jews and Muslims and its future lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Much of the recent unrest has focused around a sacred compound which is the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because of the Jewish Temples that stood there in biblical times. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third-holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday's car attack came shortly after clashes in the Old City, where Palestinians threw rocks and firecrackers at police to protest a visit to a key holy site by Israeli supporters of a rabbi shot by a Palestinian gunman last week.
The Israelis marked a week since the attack on American-Israeli activist Yehuda Glick, who has campaigned for more Jewish access to the holy site. Palestinians view such visits as a provocation and often respond violently. Glick remains in serious condition.
Several police officers were hurt in Wednesday's clashes, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that the police used stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians.
Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer at the site as a provocation, and Israeli authorities place tough restrictions on it. Everyone visiting the area from the Israeli side has to be screened by police.
Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.